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Entertaining with Emily: Make your next party unforgettable with a themed dress code

Emily Farris loves a party with a themed dress code — especially when there are sequins involved.
Emily Farris loves a party with a themed dress code — especially when there are sequins involved.

Recently, a blogger friend posted on social media that she’s hosting a meetup in a city she’s visiting.

“How brave!” I thought. And then, “But what will they do? And more importantly, what will they wear?”

A meetup, or MeetUp if hosted through meetup.com, is a gathering of people who come together at a certain place and time over a shared interest. Sometimes, the goal is an activity, like tennis or chess, but more often than not, the point is simply to connect with like-minded people in a public space. In my mind — or rather my worst nightmare — it begins with a whole lot of awkward silence as everyone sits around waiting for someone else to get the conversation going.

It’s pretty much the same nightmare I have about attending a get-together, party, or fundraising event that doesn’t have a themed dress code or activity — and one of the reasons I always seem to have a drink in my hand at any social gathering. And if I get to choose between “themed dress code” and “cheesy activity,” I’m choosing the costumes every single time (but I’m still holding onto that drink, OK?!).

Aside from the fact that dressing up is just really, really fun, it’s the absolute best way to get your guests engaging with one another, whether at a casual meetup or the Met Gala.

Picture it: You’re at a “creative black tie” fundraiser for your favorite nonprofit. Unless you’re aggressively networking or desperately trying to make a new best friend, how likely is it that you’ll strike up a conversation with a stranger in a little black dress? You know, the same little black dress everyone else is wearing? For me, it’s very unlikely, unless I absolutely must know said stranger’s fabulous lip color or where she got her perfect peep-toe flats.

On the other hand, when I attended the Nelson-Atkins’ Marie Antoinette-themed Party Arty in February, everyone’s ensemble was an ice breaker. I couldn’t help but compliment all the gorgeous ascots and headpieces I saw at every turn, and I made conversation in the elevator, at the bar and by the dessert table. Even my husband Kyle — who would never admit to sharing my enthusiasm for dressing up — got in on the fun and donned a ruffly pink shirt he rented from a local vintage shop.

In the spring, we busted out the Aquanet and his-and-hers metallic eyeshadow for the Young Friends of Starlight’s After Hours at the Towers ’80s-themed fundraiser. Again, making friends for the night was easy. The credit for that one goes mostly to Kyle’s shimmery silver muumuu-like outfit that may or may not have been one of my Grandma Freda’s homemade church dresses... in case you’re wondering where I got my penchant for glittery garb.

Of course, your dress code doesn’t have to be quite so extravagant, and it should somehow fit the theme of event. Say you’re hosting a history meetup: maybe you encourage everyone to wear a hat from their favorite era. A casual dinner party? Suggest everyone wear stretchy pants, a silly bib or a fun apron.

And if you’re hosting anything that calls for sequins, you can send my invite directly to EMILY FARRIS, SPACES MAGAZINE, KANSAS CITY, USA.

For more hosting tips, sequins, and shenanigans follow Emily on Instagram at @theboozybungalow. And if you really do want to invite her to a dress-up party, you should do so at hello@theboozybungalow.com.

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